Protecting the environment with intelligence

Forests & Carbon


Deforested land in Indonesia (c) EIA

Deforested land in Indonesia (c) EIA

Forests can be either a carbon source or a carbon store – a climate asset or a climate threat, since forests absorb carbon when left standing but release it when cleared or degraded.

Poor governance has severely damaged carbon-rich forests, resulting in forests worldwide producing 12-25 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Indonesia’s 2005 emissions totaled 2.1 gigatonnes – 76 per cent of which (1.6 gigatonnes) were from the forestry and land-use sectors. Logging, both legal and illegal, and plantations expansion are the main causes.

In response, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are rapidly exploring incentives to encourage developing countries to reduce these emissions via the scheme Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). While the scheme has the potential to create less destructive low-carbon development paths, significant uncertainties remain.


EIA’s engagement in the REDD debate is multifaceted, seeking to:

• build environmental and social safeguards into the international rules of REDD;

• work with local partners in Indonesia and elsewhere so civil society can influence national REDD strategy development;

• document causes of deforestation, such as illegal logging and plantations expansion, to supply consumer and commodity markets, including emerging biofuels markets;

• link forest governance and law enforcement reforms to REDD implementation in Indonesia;

• monitor new systems and projects for fraud, including in the carbon markets.